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"Reconnaissance - more help needed" Topic


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375 hits since 11 Sep 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

UshCha11 Sep 2018 2:14 a.m. PST

One of the hardest things but most fun is when you don't understand the issue in the real world. Reconnaissance is still a problem for us. Distant reconnaissance is easy they are specialised vehicles which if dispatched with enough time, sit and watch vital routes and report.
My issue is in the more modern world (80's to say 96) what do you do if you are in a rush. In WW2 there were loads of Armoured cars that drove down a road, and to quote a mates Grandad "if somebody shoots you know they are there, if they don't then they are either not there or are good troops and holding their fire".

Now picture the situation it's all gone pear shaped, as normal, and there is a need to move up the road a couple of villages from where you are almost immediately and you only arrived at your current position 10 minutes ago. All you have are the battalion assets, what and how much do you send to do the reconnaissance, the road is over relatively mixed ground some close and some bits of the road well clear of RPG range cover.
, what higher assets like artillery support can you demand as a minimum, everybody would like a 15" battleship but you don't always get it… If you can slant it towards the Bundeswehr then all to the good, but anybody's army(s) would help. Note not interested in rules, the problem here is understanding, or lack thereof of how it's done in the real world.

If this seems a bit cart before the horse, the scenarios I posted while great fun did show up that we had not a clue how to approach this. We did prove that the LUCHS, not surprisingly, is not that good at this sort of thing it's a stealth vehicle for distance recognisance. The Russians have little special stuff so its brute force and ignorance approach but even that is tricky as you at least need to be careful to cover the poor sods on point else you rapidly run out of assets.
Do you commit basic troops or use the recon support elements for this sort of job?

Thanks Brian

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 2:35 a.m. PST

I am quite new to the modern scene . The unit I have chosen to play Battlefronts Fate Of A Nation is Israelis 87th Armoured Recon.

The actual components of the unit is 24 Magach 6a tanks( M60A1s)main battle tanks , 36 M113s ( with infantry) with a company of Jeeps armed with an assortment of weapons .

That alone tells me that it had a totally different role that I am used to with WW2 units.

Reading the diary bits it was used as a probing force and held the enemy with the MBTs until a larger tank formation came to assist. It actually lost all of its tanks during the 73 war so It was in the thick of things.

WW2 recce was to watch and not be seen . Weapons on Armour cars were supposedly for self defence if spotted or to take out easy targets/enemy recce units.

It probably doesn't help you to much other than the recce role appears to have changed from that of WW2 .

gunnerphil11 Sep 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

UshCha, some things are not clear in your question. The unit that has to move down that road, is it a battalion, a company, or a platoon? Different assets available. Then need to consider has the area been covered by a drone flight or aircraft?

Then the mission needs to be considered. Are those 2 villages an objective or just something that need to pass through on way to somewhere else?

Frontovik11 Sep 2018 7:36 a.m. PST

Soviet recce vehicles are specialist versions of standard designs so can be difficult to pick out.


Read this.
PDF link

PDF link

Legion 411 Sep 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

Well mech/armor/motorized/Air Cav, as well as dismounted recon units use over watch to maneuver, if applicable. I.e. one element moves while another covers. Plus have FA, Mortars, etc., on stand by, for direct support if things get too "hot".


Dismounted Recon patrols use stealth and fieldcraft as their primary TTP. AFVs or any recon vehicles have to use the terrain more effectively. As most, save of the modern German Luchs as noted, make some noise.


And yes, with optics, etc., you can see a good distance based on terrain, without getting too close to the enemy. But in terrain like jungle or heavy, thick forests, you could literally be almost right next to someone and not be seen. In some cases.

Plus Bn Recon/Scout assets are many times only a Plt. But of course most Infantry are well trained in using Recon Patrols of a Fire Tm or Squad sized. As well the "Leaders' Recon" …

Battle Phlox11 Sep 2018 9:21 a.m. PST

Based on my service as an infantryman, this is my educated guess: The battalion would have a platoon of Luchs out forward. The vehicles would stay in cover as they did visuals on the open terrain. In broken terrain such as woods or a village, they would send forward their dismounted elements.

If the recon platoon runs into any non friendlies, the dismounted element would disengage. A platoon of Marders would be on overwatch for the recon platoon. They would fire on any enemy units found and may send forward their dismounts to wrinkle them out.

A platoon of Leopards would probably be in reserve to bring overwhelming firepower if needed. A platoon of mortars would also be ready to lay down rounds if that is called for.

Legion 411 Sep 2018 9:52 a.m. PST

Sounds about right … Moving dismounted is more stealthy and direct fire support could get you out of trouble if you run into it.


Moving dismounted is still generally useful in most/many situations.

UshCha11 Sep 2018 10:12 a.m. PST

Frontovick thanks for the links.

Yup sounds like its a platoon or whatever is available that moves forward under cover of there compatriots.

Thresher0111 Sep 2018 1:57 p.m. PST

Also, you don't send the whole platoon.

You send a vehicle, or at most two, from the platoon, far in advance of the others, to reconnoiter, with covering fire available from the others – kind of like the point man in a foot squad, who is usually out well in advance of the others.

Of course, against well disciplined enemy troops, this probably won't work to get them to fire on you, so you hope your lead elements spot the others first, since they're closer.

Generally, I'd send the least valuable asset forward, e.g. APCs/IFVs/recon vehicles in a mixed unit, and keep the tanks back.

Of course a lot of times you don't have them, so…..

While drones are becoming more prevalent, I'm not sure they're still integrated fully down to the platoon/squad level. Hope I'm wrong about that for our army, but don't really know.

Certainly, they wouldn't be available during the Cold War.

Legion 411 Sep 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

Well the entire Plt may have the mission, but only a Fire Tm, or Squad would do the actual "Recce" per se. E.g. a US Mech & Tank Sct Plt had 3 M113 APCs and 3 M901 ITVs. They would work in 2-3 Vehicle Tms. Moving in Over Watch, etc.

But to get a real up close "look see". A dismounted Squad or Fire Tm, may get that mission. If the terrain & situation permits.

Now for a Raid Patrol, a Plt may get that mission. As it is expected to make contact, generally. E.g. Raid an installation, strong point, POW rescue, EPW Snatch, etc. Again depends on the situation.


And generally you want to make contact with as small an element as possible, if any contact at all. Again based on the mission.


Of course we were briefed about Recon Tms in the SE Asia jungle being on patrol. And ended up in the middle of a Bn NVA/VC moving thru the jungle all around them. They just kept silent and let the NVA/VC pass. Then called in a SITREP. And if possible call in an airstrike or two.

Lion in the Stars11 Sep 2018 5:06 p.m. PST

In the Battlegroup rules, I usually had two platoons of infantry with a third platoon assigned to squad-sized recon patrols.


For a mechanized unit, I'd sent an entire platoon out, one vehicle well out in front while the other 3 overwatch.

Then the rest of the company rolls up behind.

Assuming that we're talking Europe, villages ~5km apart, I'd probably send the rest of the company up as soon as the scouts got to the first village, and possibly send a different platoon up to the second village. Recon is very stressful work, which makes you tired and likely to screw up, so you want the freshest people possible doing it.

Dragon Gunner11 Sep 2018 6:16 p.m. PST

Something I have seen done quite a bit is the LP/OP (Listening Point and Observation Point) Its just dismounted infantry with a radio, does not even need to be recon troops. They are there to hide and report as an early warning system. A handful of infantry has a much better chance of hiding than a vehicle. If they arrived in a vehicle then it is hidden a safe distance away, something they can reach in under a minute of sprinting through the brush.

Martin Rapier12 Sep 2018 6:32 a.m. PST

For the Bundeswehr there was a brigade recce platoon and some of the panzergrenadier companies had an integral recce section.

Failing that, you'd designate a sub-unit (a platoon, a section) to recce down the road at some sensible distance ahead – which could be many kilometres. The sub-unit commander would ideally do this in a sensible manner using individual vehicles up front covered by the others.

I just read an account from some poor soul commanding a one lonely Cromwell in NWE who was ordered out on recce. They came under MG fire from a farmhouse and their supporting infantry were driven off by shell fire. They were then ordered to keep the farmhouse under observation, but as they were under fire an enterprising German crept up on them and threw stick grenades into the loaders hatch. End of tank. They all managed to bail out with varying injuries but the tank was wrecked. Probably not how to do it.

Legion 412 Sep 2018 6:55 a.m. PST

Agree with all that Lion and Dragon Gunner.


you'd designate a sub-unit (a platoon, a section) to recce down the road at some sensible distance ahead

Yes, generally any PL up to, e.g. a Bn Cdr can designate a Fire Tm or Squad to do a Recon Patrol. Again, Infantrymen, Cav Troops, etc., are all trained to do recon patrols.

As a Rifle PL, I had been hastily been given orders by our near by Bde HQ. Overriding my Co Cdr's orders obviously. So if the Bde Cdr tells you to run a Recon patrol, set up TOC Security, etc. … you do it.

RudyNelson12 Sep 2018 9:03 a.m. PST

In the 1970s and 1980s, post Vietnam, the front line became increasingly more confusing. It went from simple, shoot everything in front of you to make sure you identify the target before you shoot.

In front of the front lines you would have the Armored cavalry screen and the battalion scouts wandering around but this is only part of the up front units.

You also had chemical units setting up smoke generators or even racing about setting active smoke screens. Another unit was the MI CEWI assets. Commonly was the Ground Surveillance Radar tracks who were monitoring the enemy activity. These mau or may not be operating with the scouts or set up in an exposed, hilltop, posiiition on their own.
Another asset were the early engagement Redeye or Stinger tracks operating among the cavalry and scout hopeing to ambush the initial strike helos and attack aircraft.

Another odd ball thing about the MI and chemical assets were that they all had women assigned to the units. So in actuality you had women in front of the men in the armor and infantry.

Legion 413 Sep 2018 9:08 a.m. PST

So in actuality you had women in front of the men in the armor and infantry.
And that has become more prevalent today much more and more.

Apache 613 Sep 2018 6:45 p.m. PST

Depending on the expected threat the battalion commander (or more likely his S-3) would task either his organic scout platoon or one of his companies to conduct the scout mission.

Assuming the battalion tasked the scout platoon to scout the route. The platoon would likely advance by bounds with sections of two vehicles moving while the other section observes and covers them until they are in position to cover the next bound.

The platoon conducting the scouting mission would likely have priority of fires, and at least the battalion mortars would be in laid on priority targets in support of the movement (most likely enemy positions). A battalion would most likely have a battery of 155mm in direct support and they would as well be laid on priority targets, assuming sufficient time to coordinate that (~ 15 -30 minutes).

One thing to consider is that a armored, mechanized or cross attached battalion would most likely be dispersed over several kilometers in company sized units. If they have been in position for ten minutes, they should have assumed hasty defensive positions (and the infantry may have dismounted). It would not be out of the question that the company commanders would have already pushed platoons down potential enemy avenues of approach to scout them out and provide early warning.

If a company is going to receive the scout task, it would most likely be determined by which unit was oriented in that direction. For example if "Alpha company" is on the northern flank they would most likely be tasked to scout a route to the north, as it would be easier then passing another unit though.

Legion 414 Sep 2018 8:36 a.m. PST

I agree totally Apache 6 … thumbs up

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